Vinnies opens budget grocery store

The Society of St Vincent de Paul will next month open an innovative budget grocery store as part of a neighbourhood renewal project in the Victorian Ballarat suburb of Wendouree West.

According to the ABC's Encounter program, the non-profit supermarket, which has been established in a block of shops owned by Uniting Care, is the product of an enterprising renewal project, and a partnership between residents, government and faith-based organisations.

"There are actually seven shops [in the block]," Vinnies volunteer, Allan Moloney told Encounter. "They've had a little bit of a chequered history because a number of them have been vacant for a number of years."

"We've had wonderful cooperation from Uniting Care who have been very, very supportive and cooperative in helping us get this up and running because I think they perceive it as something that is going to help this complex of shops to be revitalised," Moloney said.

According to Encounter the program emerged from a Neighbourhood Renewal campaign based on British experience.

Local community worker, Gerardine Christou added that the program built on existing connections between people in the area.

"A lot of people here actually went to school together," she said. "A lot of them have really strong ties with religion.

St Vincent de Paul worker, Max Fletcher, who is described as the brains behind the Vinnies supermarket in Victoria said that the society wanted "to find something that people needed and wanted".

"The obstacles we overcame, number one was the building, the finance, and who was going to do it. (Someone) came up with the building, local government people came up with a builder, and a plumber and an electrician and a refrigeration person," Fletcher said.

"That's how it happened. We sat down and talked about it and it was just networking within our own groups within the community and bringing those people together and sharing our passion and getting them to come on board."

Encounter says that an official opening of the supermarket in planned for March "and probably it will mean a street party."

Staffed completely by volunteers, the store has taken over a year to establish and is opened three days a week.

The store's opening follows the success of a similar supermarket in Melbourne's West Heidelberg.

Renewing the Neighbourhood (ABC Encounter, 11/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Society of St Vincent de Paul

Vinnies supermarket opens in Melbourne (CathNews, 15/8/05)

Cheaper food in new budget store (Ballarat Courier, 13/12/06)

14 Feb 2007

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